Tonight when putting Katharine (6 1/2) to bed and talking about her day, she asked me an important and hard to answer question. “Mom, why aren’t there more girls in my mountain biking camp?” First of all, mountain biking camp! I know, only in Park City does a 6 1/2 year old have a bike nicer than I did at age 25, and get to go to a camp to learn to ride trails that I only got brave enough to take on 15 years ago.
She proceeded to say, “Having more girls would be more fun. Plus mom, we can do anything that boys can do.” Proud mommy moment. After a few minutes, I realized that I had never answered her question. Why aren’t there more girls? I proceeded to tell her that at my work, I often times am the only girl so I know how she feels. I shared with her that it would be more fun if there were more of us (not stated to her…and more productive, and more diverse in opinions, and better for business). I told her that the good news is that I work with a ton of girls. In fact, at my company, there are more girls than boys (we are over 60% female). She gave me a bright-eyed smile. I told her that in my office there are actually about 600 girls. She proceeded to ask me if there were only a few boys because that would be “cool”, to which I said nope, about 500. She was pretty jazzed that at my work the girls outnumbered the boys. We talked about it more and I told her that it was actually really great that there were all kinds of people at my work…boys, girls, young people, old people, white people, black people (I know in Utah!). She thought that it would be “better if in her mountain biking class there could be all kinds of people too.”
But, I never answered her question. Why aren’t there more girls? I want to protect her from some of the truths that are probably behind that question. Maybe more parents believe their boys should be mountain bikers than girls? Maybe society teaches little girls to choose ballet camp instead (trust me Katharine wants to do that too, and Matthew has never asked). I avoided the question, hoped to teach her that girls can do anything boys can do, and vice versa, and hoped that what she remembers is that having all kinds of people in all things makes everything better.